Mama Sally: Today’s training tip is short and sweet! I just want to really encourage you to think well of your dog. It’s so very easy to slip into a pattern of thinking the worst about them, and jumping to conclusions that often simply are just not always correct. How we talk about our dogs and what we think of them, often reflects what’s really in our hearts where they are concerned.
When I’m out doing evaluations, I observe the dog, but I also observe how his owners are interacting with him. Here’s what I often see: The dog is being wild and crazy, and the owner says, “Sparky, SIT!” Sometimes Sparky sits, and sometimes he doesn’t. If he does sit, he hops right back up, and his owner is frustrated because Sparky didn’t stay in the sit, and is now back to the crazy behavior. The owner looks at me and often will say, “This dog knows how to sit. He just won’t stay!” Or I hear, “This is what’s so frustrating! This dog is as stubborn as can be! He knows how to do this, but you can see that he’s not listening to me at all.”
Here’s what I see. I see an overstimulated dog, very excited because a stranger has come into the home. I see owners who have their dog on hardwood floors, which are very highly polished and are slick. It’s very difficult for the dog to sit and stay on a slick surface, so the dog is either refusing to sit, because he knows he really can’t do it, or he sits and very quickly gets right up because he can’t stay. Or, the dog may simply get right up because the owner hasn’t asked him to stay, and the dog has no idea that this is what his owner wants from him.
The original conclusions just are not correct, and that owner is far from thinking well of his dog. Many times when I see a dog who won’t or doesn’t comply with his owner, it’s often because the dog just simply can’t do what’s being asked of him, and he’s smart enough to know that! So he opts out of doing what he’s been asked. Or,, I see owners who are all over the place barking orders but not following through with any of them so that the dog has learned that he doesn’t have to comply and his owner can’t make him.
Calling a dog “stubborn” is a judgment of that dog. To be stubborn, the dog must first know what is expected of him, and then willfully choose to disregard the command. If the owner has put his dog in a position where the dog can’t really comply with his command, I don’t think that’s on the dog as much as it is the owner.
I could probably pick up a 75 pound bag of dog food and take it out to someone’s car, but I’m also likely to blow out my back with that one, so I would prefer to pass on doing it. Someone could say that I’m stubborn or willful, but really, I’m just trying to protect my back. In my mind, that’s just sensible and smart. In your dog’s mind, he might also think he’s being sensible with what you’re asking as well.
When we’ve got high needs dogs, they can be absolutely frustrating and our thoughts often drift to judgments and unfair criticisms of our dog. Working with a qualified trainer to help moderate your dog’s behavior will absolutely help. But try to understand and think well of your little furry friend. Chances are very good that he really is trying very hard to figure things out.
Rugby James: The Mama is very fond of calling me a hot mess in speckled dog fur. That means she lubs me. Where we live, Uprights often call sumone a “hot mess” when they is just unique or silly or sumping like that. It’s a term of lubs and not anyfing mean or nasty.
I hear Uprights call their doggers dumb, or stupid, and those are just naughty fings to say about a dogger. Mostly, once doggers understand how to do sumping, they try to do it, and it hurts your dogger to say mean or naughty fings about them. Once you start to talk that way, you start to really believe those fings, and it will affect how you ultimately treat your lil dogger. If he’s just a “dumb dog,” or a “stupid pooch,” sumhow it’s a lil easier to send him packing off to a shelter or rescue.
Let me tell you a big secret: Doggers is treasures all wrapped up in furs. Every. Single. Dogger. The Mama sayes that God doesn’t always give you the dogger what you want, but He always gives you the dogger you need. The Mama needed me. She did. She needed me to teach her training secrets what would help her be a successful dog trainer. She needed me to heal the hurts in her heart. And she needed me to teach her how to lubs a difficult dogger….to learn to fink the best of doggers and Uprights. I shudder to fink of what a mess she would be if she didn’t have me to help her wif all of this important stuff!
So take a good, hard look at your lil dogger, and make a good decision to fink good fings about him…the very best of him. It will completely change how you live wif your dogger….in a very good way!